Looking back to decisions not made and roads not taken

When I was younger and reading about the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin, and Arthur, I tried to figure out how Merlin lived his life backward. Was he born at 100 years of age and then each year became a year younger? Possibly, though when interacting with Arthur, Merlin knew the past, a time he couldn’t have experienced yet. I finally let the matter sit on a dusty shelf and enjoyed the stories without worrying about Merlin’s claim except to believe him when he spoke to Arthur about the future.

When people get older that dirt–I don’t think I’m there yet–they’re often asked if they could go back in time and change one mistake, would they do it. I suppose the question is easier to answer if somebody committed a crime and is now serving a life sentence.  Undo the crime and you’re no longer doing the time. That sounds like a no-brainer.

But what about the rest of us? Sometimes I feel sad about doing ABC instead of XYZ. But then I think about how different my life would have been if I’d made the opposite decision. I get tangled up in the complexity of it all because changing one decision would ripple throughout my life and a thousand things I’m happy about would probably be wiped out of existence. I wouldn’t have “been there” for those things to happen. I wouldn’t be married to my soul mate or had a great daughter and granddaughters.

What might have been always feels bittersweet when considered in a vacuum. But when the totality of a lifetime–without Merlin’s knowledge of the purported future–is considered, the consequences of changing even the smallest thing loom very large. So when people ask me that question, my answer is always that I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t dare.

Inasmuch as I created the life I have lived, I think it’s best to keep living it because in spite of the things I could have done, where I have ended up is just what the “doctor” ordered.

The cat in my Florida Folk Magic series says past, present, and future happen simultaneously. Who am I to disagree?


Book three of the Florida Folk Magic Series.

When Police Chief Alton Gravely and Officer Carothers escalate the feud between “Torreya’s finest” and conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins by running her off the road into a north Florida swamp, the borrowed pickup truck is salvaged but Eulalie is missing and presumed dead. Her cat Lena survives. Lena could provide an accurate account of the crime, but the county sheriff is unlikely to interview a pet.

Lena doesn’t think Eulalie is dead, but the conjure woman’s family and friends don’t believe her. Eulalie’s daughter Adelaide wants to stir things up, and the church deacon wants everyone to stay out of sight. There’s talk of an eyewitness, but either Adelaide made that up to worry the police, or the witness is too scared to come forward.

When the feared Black Robes of the Klan attack the first responder who believes the wreck might have been staged, Lena is the only one who can help him try to fight them off. After that, all hope seems lost, because if Eulalie is alive and finds her way back to Torreya, there are plenty of people waiting to kill her and make sure she stays dead.